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Monday, June 20, 2011

Five Guys & The Sushi Train

So, I am here in DC. Got to the hotel [late of course - thanks AA], checked out where I needed to be first thing in the morning and on the way back through the mall to the hotel figured I would get something to eat. Saw a Five Guys burger place. Now I have never had one, never even seen one of their stores anywhere but I have heard a lot of buzz about them here and there so I figured why not.

The burger was great [Bacon Cheeseburger with mustard, ketchup, tomato, jalapeno, onion and mushroom] and the fries were piping hot and very tasty. A tad expensive [$10]. Much more than McDonald's, at least McDonald's in Texas, no idea about VA but it was bigger and better and well worth it.

However the thing that prompted me to write this was not the food but rather what to me was a somewhat odd and quirky element of their service style. Now I work in the restaurant industry, IT now but I was a store manager for years so I get that brands need to differentiate themselves. You need good food, excellent service and something that sets you apart from the others to be successful. Anyway I was waiting for my order to come up and watching the employees while I waited. I noticed the expediter filling a bag; couple of burgers, couple of fries in cups and then - a scoop of fries just thrown in the bag loose. Odd I thought. Perhaps he thought the initial portion was small. Anyway as I continued to watch he did this for every order including mine. It seems it must be by design; a point of differentiation. Now I am not one to shy away from large portions; there is a little bit of the "pig" in me but this did seem a little peculiar. Not the end of the world but to get to the burger I had to go through the fries. Take a look at the photo; yes there is a burger in there under the fries. Not really complaining and as stated already the food was very good and very filling. I am just not convinced I would have introduced that particular element into the service style of my business.

And what of the Sushi Train. Well on the way out of the mall I noticed what I immediately thought of as "The Sushi Train". I don't eat Sushi and the restaurant was not called the Sushi Train though that would have been so apropos [and no I don't know what it was called - it was in the Tyson's Corner Center is all I can tell you]. What caught my eye can be seen in the photo. The restaurant has a conveyor system that winds its way by every table. The dishes are color coded and the guests just grab the ones they want; the employees then add them to the check when they collect the empty containers from the tables. Like I said, I don't eat Sushi, but I found that to be an extremely interesting and innovative way to set up a restaurant.


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